I couldn’t help myself. Once that popped into my head, I had to use it… no matter how nonsensical.
I know using a Bond film title for a day trip series makes no sense. But, here’s my rationalization. Die Another Day is arguably the worst Bond film to date. So, by affiliating it with my awesome Day Trip Guides, it will be better by association. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
I also may be alluding to PLL. Anyone ever notice their episode titles? I have a life, I swear.
Okay, so Arrowtown is an adorable little gold rush town just outside of Queenstown. It is the perfect day trip from the twenty-something-backpacker filled adrenaline capital of the world. It has more than its fair share of tasty eats, a hefty helping of historical significance, woodsy walking trails and all the picturesque charm of a Pissarro landscape. Except, in New Zealand, not France.
If you are self-driving, it is an easy 20 minute drive via Highway 6A or Malaghan’s Road.
If you are without wheels, several buses travel between the towns everyday. A timetable can be found here.
I also remember seeing hotel/hostel shuttles running to Arrowtown from Q-town, so check with your accommodation (potentially a better deal).
Where to eat.
So many choices!
We can personally vouch for breakfast at the Chop Shop Food Merchants. This quirky little cafe has a changing menu with a global influence. Our brunch consisted of phenomenal griddle cakes (me, duh) and a very tasty pork belly bahn mi (for J). Unfortunately the Bloody Marys fell very flat, although they sure did look pretty! Grab a coffee instead.
We also popped into Settler’s Bar and Restaurant for a quick hot chocolate with a side of whimsy. A self mixing hot cocoa experience complete with fire roasted marshmallows and a dome of smoke. The concept pulled straight from Willy Wonka’s imagination, no doubt. Bonus points for being delicious on top of original. We can’t speak to the food or cocktails, but the atmosphere is lovely and the bartender was very nice as we popped in right before closing.
We’ve heard good things about…
Saffron. A higher end option with a seasonally changing menu incorporating local ingredients and a mix of Asian fusion dishes.
The Postmaster’s Residence. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, serving hearty New Zealand fare like house smoked salmon, NZ green-lipped muscles and Fiordland venison. Of course has the obligatory curry, as well.
The Fork and Tap. Solid pub fare – burgers, cheese boards, polenta fries – with a vast selection of NZ brews on tap. 14 to be exact.
Things to do.
Arrowtown is one of those towns you’ll just enjoy strolling around. The quaint main street has all sorts of shops you can pop into – my favorite was the old time-y sweets shop.
I would recommend grabbing breakfast in town (not at the sweets shop, unless that’s your jam), then meandering along Buckingham Street until reaching the Historic Arrowtown Chinese Settlement. Down a sloping hill, separating it from the rest of town, rests the remains of a Chinese settlement from the gold rush days.
In the late 1800’s at the peak of New Zealand’s gold rush, Chinese immigrants who came to find a better life were forced to live on the outskirts of European settlements, heavily discriminated against. The remnants of this settlement, a few ramshackle buildings, serve as a reminder of the contribution made by Chinese immigrants to New Zealand’s gold mining, cultural and economic history. This is a leisurely walk amongst the woods and buildings, peppered with informational plaques. It is a fairly sparse exhibition, so 45 minutes to an hour is enough time to get a good grasp of what’s there. This is also a good jumping off point for several walking trails.
The Peregrine Loop would be my choice for a day trip. The walk is easy and takes just an hour return (2.7km). This walk passes by more evidence of the gold rush past, including a collapsed mine and several arched timber bridges.
Once you’ve made it back to town and surely worked up an appetite, time for lunch. Choose from one of the many wonderful options above for a long (and possibly boozy) lunch before heading back out on the streets for window shopping and a visit to the museum.
The Lakes District Museum, open from 8:30am to 5pm daily, exhibits an authentic example of early Maori life as well as that of early European settlers and goldminers, with a strong emphasis on hands-on learning. An art gallery and bookshop are also housed in the same building and are worth a peruse.
End the day with a movie at Dorothy Brown’s Arrowtown Theater. An eclectic boutique cinema and bookstore offering drinks and cheese boards to accompany the mix of contemporary and art house theatrical offerings.
If you’re still a bit peckish afterwards, grab a late dinner (the Fork and Tap is open till 11) and make it back into Queenstown in no time, ready for a good night’s sleep after a busy day.
So this boutique hot chocolate experience cannot be a one-off… what is the coolest (ha) hot chocolate you’ve ever had? Let me know in the comments!